Lessons from the Gulf War
There is a view held in certain parts of the Middle East that Middle East specialists in the British Foreign Office have only read two books in their lives, one being Lord Cromer’s Modern Egypt so that they are well trained in Imperialism; the other, of course, being the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, because, as we all know, every British Foreign Office official is longing to put on a nightshirt and jump on the back of a camel. You cannot, I hope, see me in either of those guises. The truth of the matter is that there is one book which opened my mind and was my Bible, which I have reread at intervals ever since — and I think the same is true of almost all my friends and colleagues, not only of my age and generation, but of succeeding generations. That, of course, is George Antonius’s book The Arab Awakening. I never thought, when I first read that book, many years ago, that I would be giving a talk in a public lecture series dedicated to George Antonius’s memory.
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